Above: Rio Ruiz throws out the first pitch at Monday night’s SGV All-Star game
By Aram Tolegian
Only a few months ago, June 4 figured to be one of the biggest days of Bishop Amat High School baseball standout Rio Ruiz’s life.
It was the first round and supplemental round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. But Monday’s festivities came and went without Ruiz’s name being called.
Call him the victim of bad luck, but Ruiz still has plenty going for him.
The once first-round projection with freakish power for a high school player figures to be selected at some point today during rounds 2-15. Then, the decision will be whether to start a career as a professional baseball player or to play at USC.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Ruiz said from his home on Monday. “I’m not in control of what goes on with the teams and their decisions. I did my part. I played my game. It’s just ultimately up to them.”
Ruiz was robbed of most of his senior season after suffering a blood clot in his arm that requires medication to this day. He’s expected to be done with medical treatment in mid-June, but what should have been his opportunity to end a stellar prep career with a bang turned him into a spectator in the dugout.
It also likely killed his chances to be taken on the first day of the draft. The blood clot was just one stroke of bad luck Ruiz had during his senior year at Amat. As a quarterback for the football team, Ruiz suffered a knee injury toward the end of the season that caused him to miss time.
“There’s really nothing I could do about it,” Ruiz said. “In football, I put myself in a situation where I could get hurt and I did. Then baseball came and God works in special ways and it wasn’t a way that I agreed with, but I just have to follow his ways and I will end up coming out even stronger.”
Another thing that didn’t help Ruiz’s cause on Monday was he and his father Rudy told interested teams his signing threshold was top-10 money. The figure was not disclosed, but Rudy Ruiz felt it was high enough to prevent teams from selecting his son.
When and where Ruiz is selected today likely will determine what Ruiz decides as far as USC or an early run at a pro career.
Either way, he’s satisfied.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Ruiz said. “That’s the only way I look at it. You couldn’t really go wrong with either one.
“I either get an education, play college ball and live the college life, or start my pro career. which is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Ruiz isn’t the only local high school player who could be taken as soon as today. Bonita pitcher Justin Garza has big-league hopes after a dominating prep career that ended Friday with a CIF-SS title.
Los Altos shortstop Joe Munoz has pro aspirations and could hear his name called at some point today. So could Diamond Ranch’s Dylan Goodwin and South Hills’ C.J. Saylor.
Former Bonita standout and current UCLA outfielder Jeff Gelalich was selected by the Cincinnati Reds with the 57th overall pick Monday.